Yaro Zabavskiy ’14 is happy. In fact he’s more than happy as a teacher of ceramics and analog photography at the newly constructed United World College Dilijan in Armenia.
“Teaching the subject that I am passionate about in such a beautiful and hospitable country, at an institution that operates on ideals that I value, it’s a dream,” he says. “I’m still processing the fact that it came true.”
While at Earlham, Zabavskiy says he became hooked on the process of photography, specifically the darkroom, paper, chemicals and images. He also participated in the New York Arts program where he completed three photography related internships, one at CLM photography, another at the International Center of Photography, and an internship with New York photographer Robert Whitman.
He also had a deep interest in ceramics, and during his senior project he combined the two by transferring photos onto frames of clay.
“I have remained on this path and recently made a new series where I continue to explore the relationship between the two,” he says. “I am fascinated by imagery, but working with clay gives me a more tangible and tactile experience that I miss in photography. Plus, sometimes I like to make something functional and see it being used. It’s nice to have two mediums to work in because if I get tired of one thing, I simply switch to the other.”
After graduating from Earlham, he began teaching at The Higher British School of Art and Design in Moscow.
“I was initially attracted by the fact that they have both a darkroom and a ceramics room,” he says. “It’s probably the only place in Moscow that has both facilities. Plus they have an international teaching team.”
He says he has always enjoyed explaining things and gave English lessons to friends in his Russian high school. The defining moment that prompted him to teach happened at Earlham while watching his art teachers lead classes.
“This is where I want to be,” he thought. “People like Walt Bistline and Judy Wojcik were more than just teachers to me. They helped me to discover the magic of creation.
“It is the excitement of creation that is in the heart of my passion for the arts. I often heard that mankind is created in the image of God, but I have never really understood what it means until I realized that people possess the freedom to create. To me art is also a way of understanding myself and the world around me. It is an intimate process, yet I have a desire to share the results of it with others. If I can help others discover art for themselves, I think it will make me happy.”